Organising the Judo Nomad project in the Pacific region has been quite challenging, but thanks to the passion and dedication of judo enthusiasts, we've made significant progress. It all began with Josateki Naulu, an Olympic torchbearer for Fiji and now a judo teacher in Japan, but also an IJF Veterans Commission member. He generously covered the fees for me to travel to his island and make a positive impact there. Josateki connected me with Tiko, the president, and Nemani, the coach, who accompanied me throughout the trip.

Fiji boasts around 100 members in the judo federation, with 40-50 being active participants. My aim was to bolster these numbers and empower the teachers to foster long-term development ideas. Fiji's strategic location makes it a central hub for travel in the Pacific area; thus flying from Fiji is often necessary to reach other destinations.

Our first class drew a large group of children and, by the last session, our numbers had nearly doubled! Teaching judo at Suva Albert Park was a unique experience, set against the backdrop of an outdoor stadium where rugby, Fiji's national sport, reigns supreme. I even joined in a game of rugby, reminiscing about my time in France. In addition to judo, I immersed myself in Fiji's rich culture, exploring waterfalls, savouring local cuisine and attending farewell parties.

Discovering the origins of judo in Fiji was truly fascinating. Nemani Takayawa's father, a self-taught judoka who learned from a book, played a pivotal role. His encounter with Japanese investors led to a lifelong connection, resulting in Fiji producing champions like Nacanieli Takayawa, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

The Fiji Judo Federation is nurturing young talent with aspirations for future Olympians while prioritising the growth of the next generation. Plans are underway for collaborations to further these goals, with upcoming meetings scheduled in Paris during the Olympics.


My journey then took me to Vanuatu, where Kate Corkery, President of the Oceania Judo Union and IJF Vice President, facilitated my visit. While Vanuatu, Palau and Kiribati expressed interest, Vanuatu's president, Nicolas Monvoisin, secured sponsorship from The Carbin Club for my transportation and accommodation.


Arriving in Port Vila, I was welcomed by the president, whose French roots reflect Vanuatu's past history. Hosted on his farm amidst picturesque surroundings, I felt at home, albeit with the occasional nocturnal visitor, a giant centipede!

Judo classes in Vanuatu, led by a Japanese volunteer coach named Shio, focused on fun and engagement to attract newcomers. Nazario Fiakaifonu, another Olympian, graced us with his presence, symbolising the community's commitment to judo growth.

Exploring Vanuatu's tourist attractions, attending special ceremonies and engaging with dignitaries added depth to my experience. Conversations with the French and also the Japanese ambassadors and President Nikenike Vurobaravu centred around future collaborations, including plans for a new dojo.

Reflecting on my time in the Pacific Islands, I'm inspired by the warmth of the people and their eagerness to embrace judo. While bidding farewell was difficult, I'm committed to returning and continuing our projects in Fiji and Vanuatu.

With French Ambassador

Back in Australia, a partnership with Kusakura Oceania promises exciting opportunities ahead. Despite challenges, the Judo Nomad project is gaining momentum, with much more to come. Stay tuned for further updates, and thank you, judo readers, for your ongoing support!

The Judo Nomad

Thanks also to all of you who open your door to have a piece of the judo nomad history in your place, thanks to all the 130 people who give a little bit of money every month to help the project survive!

Warm regards from the Pacific.

See also